Tis the season to be jolly…
Great, but what if you are not? What if you are grieving? Oh no...
What if no matter what you do you can’t create that jolly feeling? You play the Christmas music, you light a scented candle, you are watching hallmark movies, you have all festive decorations that reflect your beliefs displayed, it’s snowing, and the only thing missing is the jingle bells…and you still aren’t feeling jolly. What’s wrong with you? Nothing, you are sad and that’s okay. Sad feelings are just as normal as jolly feelings. One is not better than the other, we've just been told that and not everything we are told is true. You are allowed to feel what you feel even if it makes others uncomfortable.
The holidays hold many emotions, memories and feelings. Feelings of sadness and grief can be very present this time of year. The holidays can be hard even if you are feeling festive. The pressure to create that magical holiday feeling can be overwhelming and defeating. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie… (although, I do love a good holiday movie).
We can feel sad because the holidays don’t look like what we had hoped, dreamed or expected. It’s just not what we thought. Its different and that can be grief. Grief isn't only the devastating loss of a loved one, its can be divorce, estrangement, moving away from loved ones, health, pet loss, even a vacation...grief is not limited to death.
Let go back to holiday movies and one of my most favorites. Let’s look at the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” … now that’s got real emotion in it – it’s definitely not a Hallmark Movie. The main character, George Baily’s life was falling apart, he lost so much, he experienced loss of hopes, dreams and expectations. He was wishing things had been different, better or more. George was defeated and wanted to quit. George wanted to die. Yes, this is a holiday movie…. George shows all sorts of emotions in this movie, joy, desperation, pain and grief to hope. The movie takes us on Georges journey to discovering what a wonderful life he has in spite of all the loss, disappointments and pain. Yes, it ends well because there is hope. The movie gives us a front row seat to the pain and disappointment of life and how a community can come together to support and love us where we are. Together we are better, together there is hope. That we as human beings are loved and there is no better place to be than right here even if we feel sad feelings. You matter.
The movie teaches us we need to give ourselves credit for the good we have done; think about the people we have influenced along our journey and who have influenced us. Think about the joy we have brought and the joy we have been given. The stories we have heard and the stories we had told, the listening and being listened to. The movie is about believing you can have a wonderful life no matter who you are, what and who you have lost and believing there is hope. Clarence the angel reminds George this near the end of the movie “Remember George, no man is failure who has friends”. Clarence is full of hope. "It's a Wonderful Life" also shows us feeling happy and sad during the holidays isn’t unnatural or wrong. It’s real. It shows us that it’s okay to ask for help when we are struggling. We were never meant to do life alone. Our stories matter. It shows us community is vitally important to each of us. We are not alone, even when we feel alone. It shows us there is hope.
This holiday season if you are missing someone or something its okay to talk about it or them. Its okay to feel sad and its okay feel happy. Its okay to search for meaning. It’s okay to feel a bunch of emotions. It’s important to be patient with your physical and emotional limits. It’s healthy to treasure your memories and to move towards your grief to healing. Its okay to have hope.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, take time to feel what you are feeling. Don’t pretend to feel something you don’t. There is nothing wrong with you. You have a broken heart and you are feeling your way through the holidays. Your losses deserve to be honoured by your grief. Remember its okay to have conflicting feelings, its normal and natural. Feeling happy, then sad, feeling excited, then dread, feeling hopeful, then lost, feeling tired, then energized…it’s the holidays…it’s a lot and you are allowed to feel a lot, with no judgement, analysis or criticism. You will be greeted with warmth, love, respect, honour and hope.
You don't have to create the perfect Holiday because there is no such thing. Be present in the moments as they are and feel your way through to the next moment and next feeling.
I see you and I love you.